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Injuries set back Braves as they go 1-2 at Chippewa Invitational

The team huddles before a match. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics

Bradley volleyball (4-2) made the trip to Central Michigan University for the Chippewa Invitational, where they collected one win but dropped two games.

Bradley has been dealing with injuries all season, as the senior duo of Doga Topcicek and Maddie Peterson have yet to play. Graduate transfer Dru Kuck also has a nagging injury, but she decided to play through it this past weekend.

“It’s always frustrating [having] an injury, but it’s my last year and I actually don’t have any passes,” Kuck said. “It’s [not] my senior year or my COVID year like this is my last year so I’m just giving it my all and I have a break after that for my body.”

In the first game, Bradley lost to Saint Louis 3-1. After winning the first set 25-21, the team dropped all of the next three sets by scores of 25-20. Freshman Tendai Titley led the Braves with ten kills, but as a whole Bradley was outkilled 62-37 in the match. Titley racked up 33 kills on the weekend to earn a spot on the All-Invitational team.

The second game went a little better for the Braves, as they swept Albany 3-0 in dominating sets of 25-12, 25-16 and 25-20. Bradley stuffed the stat sheet, only underperforming in one major statistical category. Bradley’s strongest statistical win was its aces, as they had 12 to Albany’s five, outserving them throughout the three sets.

In their final game in Michigan, Bradley took the host to five sets before falling in the last frame in the third game of the weekend. The Braves won the first set 25-21 before losing the second 31-29. They won the third 25-22, but lost the fourth and fifth 25-21 and 15-9. Bradley lost the kill battle 59-55 but had 14 aces to the Chippewas’ 11, continuing to serve well.

Despite the team’s strength behind the baseline, head coach Alicia Williams thinks they need to up their game in other areas to get back to their winning ways.

“We need to be prepared defensively for teams and not just kind of rely on [the fact that] we’re a great serving team,” Williams said. “We just can’t rely on getting aces every time. [We] do a really good job of getting people out of system and not having perfect passes but now we have to defend the out of system attack better.”

The Braves are still trying to get their flow together, but with strong serving and communication, Bradley is 4-2 and on a good track to finish in the top half of the MVC through six games.

“There’s a really strong flow and it’s really smooth and I think it’s going to progress and get better and better,” Kuck said.

This weekend, Bradley travels to Evansville for the Southern Indiana Tournament, facing off against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Jacksonville State and the host, Southern Indiana. These teams have already played quality competition, but all three have losing records. With an undefeated weekend, the Braves would be in the best position they’ve been in to start a volleyball season in five years.

“[Taking] care of the ball is the main thing, especially [in the] end game and that starts with a good first contact,” Williams said. “Just kind of focusing on [that] I think will help us.”

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